Green recovery could create 60% renewable power system in UK

29th October 2020

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Lesley Bryce

Renewables could account for 60% of the UK's power system by 2025 if COVID-19 recovery funds were directed to green energy and away from fossil fuels, a new study has found.

In a report published today, the researchers highlight how the UK has allocated £3.8bn of stimulus commitments to fossil fuels, and only £122m for clean power generation.

They describe this as a “missed opportunity“, and say that these funds could instead be used to transform the country's energy system, not only boosting renewables' share from 37% to 60%, but cutting power sector emissions by 58% over the next five years.

This would also create over 120,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector and put the UK on track to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050, according to the report from technology firm Wärtsilä.

Similarly, in the US, over 500,000 new jobs in renewables could be created if its current fossil fuel stimulus was instead allocated to green energy, which is 175% more new jobs than if focused on legacy systems.

“Across the G20 countries, the stimulus 'scales' are strongly weighted to support legacy inflexible power systems, despite the agenda for rapid decarbonisation that's underway worldwide,“ said Sushil Purohit, energy business president at W√§rtsil√§.

The report also outlines how a 60% renewable power system might look in UK. It would have 60GW of renewable energy, supported by 7GW of battery energy storage and 14GW of flexible gas-based generation for flexibility.

A carbon-neutral electricity sector in the US by 2035 could be achieved with 1,700GW of new wind and solar, supported by battery energy storage and flexible gas-fired power capacity operating on renewable bio or synthetic fuels.

The fully-renewable power system would create 8.7 million jobs in renewable energy alone and have an expected investment cost of $1.7trn.

“In our modelling of two world-leading energy markets: the US and the UK – it's clear that both countries stand at the brink of a clean energy revolution, that could provide a blueprint for other economies to follow,“ Purohit continued.

“Refocusing stimulus towards renewable and flexible energy would accelerate this shift, create jobs and cut emissions.“

Image credit: iStock


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